Recently, a special guest appeared in Lok Fu Place. As soon as she showed up, she attracted a lot of attention from her fans.
Say hello to Pudding, a guide dog best known for her leading role in the movie “Little Q”. When she visited Lok Fu Place, Pudding was accompanied by her “mother”, Koo Lai (the guide dog user). Even though Koo Lai couldn’t see things clearly, with Pudding’s assistance, she was able to cross roads, take escalators, look for service desks and reach her destination without a hitch.
Pudding was bred by the Hong Kong Guide Dogs Association (HKGDA) in 2017, along with 18 guide dogs, as part of the guide breeding and education programme funded by Link Together Initiatives. This development programme is designed to benefit and raise awareness of visually impaired persons in Hong Kong.
Pudding is a great example of the success of this programme. She helps Koo Lai integrate into the community. When Koo Lai shops with Pudding by her side, more people come to chat with her. "Pudding has allowed me to integrate into the community with dignity. Now I feel so much happier."
HKGDA was established in 2011. Link quickly recognised the importance of the services provided by the HKGDA and began supporting HKGDA during its start-up period. Link made all its properties available for guide dogs’ training beginning in 2013, and it has supported HKGDA in developing guide dog services since 2014, including local breeding and training.
The dense urban space in Hong Kong often makes it necessary for visually impaired people to venture into shopping malls. It is therefore important for guide dogs in Hong Kong to get used to shopping malls during the training process. However, when guide dog services were first being implemented in Hong Kong, many shopping malls did not let dogs enter – even guide dogs who needed training. Link recognised this unmet need in the community and made its malls available for guide dog training purposes, making it a pioneer in this regard.
Most guide dogs are Labradors or are a mix of Labrador and Golden Retriever. In order to ensure the quality of guide dogs and enable the steady development of local guide dog services, HKGDA has successfully helped guide dogs to breed locally in Hong Kong with the funding support of Link Together Initiatives . HKGDA has successfully bred 9 litters of guide dog puppies to date.
Lam Wai Pong said that the number of guide dogs active in Hong Kong is far below the number needed. Reflecting the need for further development in the region, HKGDA has received enquiries from organisations in Macau as well as Shanghai, Guangzhou and other cities about helping them develop their own guide dog programmes. Lam Wai Pong said that guide dog services in Hong Kong initially started with the help of other countries, so HKGDA is glad to now be in the position of helping others, in addition to increasing the number of working guide dogs in Hong Kong to help the local visually impaired community.